BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    






                                    SENATE COMMITTEE ON INSURANCE
                          Senator Jackie Speier, Chair


          AB 2208 (Kehoe)                    Hearing Date:  June 16,  
          2004

          As Amended:April 27, 2004
          Fiscal:             Yes
          Urgency:       No

          VOTES:                   Asm. Health DP:12-5
                         Asm. Jud. DPA:      8-3
                         Asm. Appr. DP:      16-4
                         Asm. Floor Passed:  46-31

           SUMMARY
           
          Would conform laws governing health insurance and all other  
          forms of insurance to recent legislation providing that  
          registered domestic partners have the same rights,  
          protections, and benefits, and are subject to the same  
          responsibilities, obligations, and duties under law, as are  
          granted to and imposed upon spouses.   
           
          DIGEST
            
          Existing law
            
           1.  Requires a group health plan and a policy of group  
              health insurance (health insurer) to offer coverage to  
              employers or guaranteed associations for the domestic  
              partner of a covered individual to the same extent, and  
              subject to the same terms and conditions, as provided  
              to a dependent of the covered individual;

           2.  Requires, in the event an employer or guaranteed  
              association has purchased coverage for domestic  
              partners pursuant to #1 above, that a health plan and a  
              health insurer enroll as a dependent a domestic partner  
              of a covered individual in accordance with the terms  
              and conditions of the group contract that apply  
              generally to all dependents under the plan, including  
              coordination of benefits;

           3.  Allows a health plan and a health insurer to require  




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              that the covered individual verify the status of the  
              domestic partnership by providing a copy of a valid  
              Declaration of Domestic Partnership.
           
          This bill

           1.  Would require a health plan and a health insurer to  
              provide employers or guaranteed associations with  
              coverage for the domestic partner of a covered  
              individual to the same extent, and subject to the same  
              terms and conditions, as provided to the spouse of a  
              covered individual; 

           2.  Would require a health plan and a health insurer to  
              inform employers and guaranteed associations of this  
              coverage;

           3.  Would prohibit a health plan and health insurer from  
              offering or providing coverage for a domestic partner  
              that is not equal to the coverage provided to the  
              spouse of a covered individual;

           4.  Would require, in the event that an employer or a  
              guaranteed association has purchased coverage for  
              spouses and domestic partners pursuant to #1-3 above, a  
              health plan and health insurer to enroll a domestic  
              partner of a covered individual in accordance with the  
              terms and conditions of the group contract that apply  
              generally to all spouses under the plan, including  
              coordination of benefits;

           5.  Would provide that a health plan and health insurer  
              may require that the covered individual verify the  
              status of the domestic partnership by providing a copy  
              of a valid Declaration of Domestic Partnership only if  
              it also requests that the covered individual provide  
              verification of marital status and notification of  
              dissolution of marriage;

           6.  Would provide that a health plan and health insurer  
              subject to the bill shall be deemed to provide coverage  
              for domestic partners that is equal to the coverage  
              provided to a spouse of a covered individual;

           7.  Would require, regarding all forms of insurance, every  
              policy to provide coverage for the domestic partner of  




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          3



              an insured or policy holder that is equal to, and  
              subject to the same terms and conditions as, the  
              coverage provided to a spouse of an insured or  
              policyholder;

           8.  Would prohibit a policy from offering or providing  
              coverage for a domestic partner if it is not equal to  
              the coverage provided for the spouse of an insured or  
              policyholder;

           9.  Would provide that a policy subject to this bill shall  
              be deemed to provide coverage for domestic partners  
              that is equal to the coverage provided to a spouse of  
              an insured or policyholder.

           COMMENTS

           1.  Purpose of the bill  .  To require that health insurance  
              and all other forms of insurance provided to domestic  
              partners be equal to that which is provided to spouses.  
               
           
           2.  Brief legislative background  .  AB 2208 would conform  
              laws governing health insurance with AB 205 (Goldberg,  
              Chapter 421, Statutes of 2003), which provided that  
              registered domestic partners have the same rights,  
              protections, and benefits, and are subject to the same  
              responsibilities, obligations, and duties under law, as  
              are granted to and imposed upon spouses.   

              Current law, pursuant to AB 25 (Migden, Chapter 893,  
              Statutes of 2001), generally requires group health  
              plans and group health insurance policies to offer  
              coverage for domestic partners on the same terms that  
              they offer it to dependants.  Instead, AB 2208 requires  
              plans and insurers to cover domestic partners under the  
              same terms that they cover spouses.  

            3.  Support  .  The author states that "despite gains made  
              by previous legislation, registered domestic partners  
              are often denied insurance benefits and coverage, or  
              are unfairly required to pay higher premiums.  This  
              bill would protect families, eliminate uncertainty and  
              confusion in current law, and prevent unnecessary  
              litigation."  
           




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               Equality California and the Department of Insurance,  
              co-sponsors of the bill, write that the bill would  
              provide a "necessary and consistent standard of  
              non-discrimination in insurance in conformance with AB  
              205 by ensuring that insurance companies treat domestic  
              partners in the same manner as spouses in the purchase  
              of insurance."

          3.   Opposition  .  Groups opposing AB 2208 write with two  
              basic objections to the bill.  First, opponents state  
              that the measure would infringe on the consciences and  
              morals of private businesses that object to domestic  
              partnerships and to legislative efforts to treat them  
              as equal to spouses.  Second, groups opposing the bill  
              state that it would drive up the cost of health  
              insurance for businesses.  Concerned Women for America,  
              for example, writes that same-sex relationships carry  
              higher health risks than heterosexual relationships due  
              to higher rates of sexually-transmitted disease,  
              alcohol abuse, domestic violence, and mental illness,  
              and references a statistic found by another  
              organization that in one instance, a pool of small  
              employers was found to have a 17.1% higher loss ratio  
              for same-sex couples as it did for heterosexual  
              couples.  
           
          POSITIONS
          
          Support
           
          2 individuals
          ACLU
          AIDS Project Los Angeles
          Anti-Defamation League
          Being Alive Los Angeles, Inc.
          California Commission on the Status of Women
          California Labor Federation, AFL-CIO
          California Medical Association
          California National Organization for Women
          California Nurses Association
          California Retired Teachers Association
          California School Employees Association
          California State Employees Association
          California Teachers Association
          City and County of West Hollywood
          Department of Insurance




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          Equality California (Sponsor)
          Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund
          Legal Aid Society Employment Law Center
          MALDEF
          Metropolitan Community Church, Los Angeles
          National Center for Lesbian Rights
          Office of the Attorney General
          Our Family Coalition
          Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays,  
          Ventura County
          Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California 
          Pride At Work, Southern California Regional Chapter
          San Francisco Aids Foundation
          San Francisco Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Community  
          Center
          Stonewall Democratic Club of Greater Sacramento
          Transgender Law Center
           
          Oppose
               
          Campaign for California Families
          Capitol Resource Institute
          Concerned Women for America

          Consultant:   Soren Tjernell.  916-445-0825.